Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Sarah Jio is spreading the love...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Brandon Ebel
We are so glad to have Sarah Jio back at CLC today. We've been featuring her books ever since she shared her debut, The Violets of March, with us. Sarah is as lovely as her books and we're excited for you to reconnect with her or meet her for the first time. Melissa gave five stars to her latest novel, With Love from London (see her review). Thanks to Ballantine, we have one copy to share with a lucky reader!

A #1 international, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, Sarah has written nine novels with Penguin Books (Plume) and Random House (Ballantine). Her novels include THE VIOLETS OF MARCH (a Library Journal Best Book of 2011 and a USA Today bestseller), THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER (an instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller, as well as an international bestseller), THE LAST CAMELLIA (a Kirkus Books Most Anticipated Book of 2012), MORNING GLORY, GOODNIGHT JUNE, THE LOOK OF LOVE (an iTunes Best Book of November 2014), ALWAYS and ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS. Her novels have become major bestsellers in countries such as Turkey, Norway, Poland and Russia. Most recently, her new novel in Turkey, BACK TO YOU, became a #1 bestseller.

A magazine writer and former columnist for Glamour magazine, Sarah has written thousands of articles and blog posts for national magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, The Nest, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, Parents, Woman’s Day, American Baby, Parenting, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband and three sons. (Bio adapted from Sarah's website.)

Visit Sarah online:

When Valentina Baker was only eleven years old, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own in California. Now a librarian in her thirties, fresh out of a failed marriage and still at odds with her mother’s abandonment, Val feels disenchanted with her life.

In a bittersweet twist of fate, she receives word that Eloise has died, leaving Val the deed to her mother’s Primrose Hill apartment and the Book Garden, the storied bookshop she opened almost two decades prior. Though the news is devastating, Val jumps at the chance for a new beginning and jets across the Atlantic, hoping to learn who her mother truly was while mourning the relationship they never had.

As Val begins to piece together Eloise’s life in the U.K., she finds herself falling in love with the pastel-colored third-floor flat and the cozy, treasure-filled bookshop, soon realizing that her mother’s life was much more complicated than she ever imagined. When Val stumbles across a series of intriguing notes left in a beloved old novel, she sets out to locate the book’s mysterious former owner, though her efforts are challenged from the start, as is the Book Garden’s future. In order to save the store from financial ruin and preserve her mother’s legacy, she must rally its eccentric staff and journey deep into her mother’s secrets. With Love from London is a story about healing and loss, revealing the emotional, relatable truths about love, family, and forgiveness. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
This is SUCH a beautiful question, especially for an author like me who is often overly critical and a bit on the sensitive side, ha! When you put your work out there to the world, you’re bound to get responses that aren’t always positive or affirming. After eleven novels, I’ve learned that’s something that just comes with the territory. While I remain a sensitive soul (a friend of mine calls me “whimsical” which I much prefer over sensitive!), I have learned to grow thicker skin and have come to realize that not everything I write is going to resonate with everyone. A lot of times, our responses to what we read can come from the place we’re in or circumstances we’re going through. Maybe a character in one of my novels reminded you of that mean girl in middle school who hurt your feelings? Or maybe you were in a fight with your husband when you posted your review on Goodreads and felt snarkier than usual, you know? 

At the heart of me, I hold on to my belief that most people mean well, and in my life, I live by a practice of letting go of negativity in favor of focusing on the positive (and also on forgiveness, which happens to be a theme in a lot of my writing—which is not to say that I need to “forgive” anyone who gives me a bad review—that is just fine!). All this to say, when I receive a compliment on my writing, it means so much to me. People tend to think that authors don’t pay attention to their “fans” praise that much, but I’m telling you, this author does! I write because it is my joy and calling (a career that feels like getting to have fun—most of the time!), but the greatest joy of my career is being able to connect to others through my words. It is a privilege to be able to make people “feel” when they read my stories, and that sort of feedback is the most rewarding.
I have been overwhelmed (in a good way!) with all of the positive feedback pouring in about WITH LOVE FROM LONDON. Most recently, I heard from a voracious reader who wrote that this was the first of my books she had read, and she wanted to tell me that LONDON has become her new favorite novel. I wanted to jump through my computer screen and give her a big hug. She shared that she had a difficult relationship with her estranged mother and my novel helped her think differently about her pain and consider the struggles her mother experienced in all those years while they were separated. For me, that was the most beautiful compliment, and it made my hard work on this novel so worthwhile. Thank you again for asking this lovely question and giving me the chance to delve into all my thoughts on the topic!
Who do you relate to more in your novel, Eloise or Valentina?
Another great question, and one that’s so hard for me to answer! I relate to them both, almost equally, though I do have a soft spot for Eloise. As a mother of three boys who went through a painful divorce and subsequent trauma dealing with some things that I am unable to share publicly, I can say that my heart ached for Eloise as I was writing her journey, and I was rooting for her until the end. I think she was not only misunderstood, but that she also misunderstood herself. Like a lot of women, it took her years to learn the very important lesson of trusting her instincts and listening to her gut. It took me into my thirties before I learned to really do that well, too!
If With Love from London were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
Oh goodness, so many! I’m a huge music buff (but, eeks, I hate the word “buff” so sorry for that!), and there were several songs I listened to on repeat while working on this book. Here are a few that I would hope would make the cut if there were a movie version: “London’s Song” by Matt Hartke (I discovered this gem after Shazaming it at a restaurant!), “The Place Where Lost Things Go” by Jamie Cullum (I’m such a fan of this jazzy, British artist), and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” by the king, Nat King Cole.
What is your favorite independent bookstore?
In WITH LOVE FROM LONDON, I loved dreaming up The Book Garden in Primrose Hill—it was just the ultimate book lover’s dream and so fun for me to imagine. In real life, there are so many bookstores that are dear to my heart, and Third Place Books in Seattle is number one. This lovely store has both been very good to me and incredibly supportive over the years; it’s also a place where I’ve been taking my boys to for years! Oh, and I adore Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, Washington, which is where I set my first novel, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH.
What TV series are you currently binge watching?
I recently discovered Emily in Paris on Netflix and will admit that while my husband refused to partake with me, I couldn’t stop! I binged watched an entire season on an airplane recently. The fashion! The food! The Parisian cafes! Emily’s ultimate optimism! #obsessed
What is something you have learned about yourself during the pandemic?

Ooooooh! What an interesting thing to think about. The first thought that comes to mind is this: While I’ve been a huge fan of travel over the years—and I’m married to a man who loves racking up stamps in his passport—I think the pandemic reinforced my love of HOME. Yes, yes, there were so many moments during months of lockdown when I missed travel, family and friends, and found myself seeping into the depths of cabin fever, but I do think that the last few years reminded me of the importance of putting down roots, getting back to the simple pleasures in life (gardening, mastering sourdough bread). At my core, I am a homebody—a real one—and I suppose that was the pandemic’s biggest aha moment for me. I love making my kids beautiful homemade meals, digging weeds out of my garden, and taking my dog on walks around the same well-worn sidewalks of our Seattle neighborhood—waving at the neighbors and noticing the daffodils pushing up through the ground, the way they did last spring, and the spring before. There is no place like home.

Thanks to Sarah for visiting with us and to Ballantine for sharing her book with our readers.

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Giveaway ends February 27th at midnight EST.

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traveler said...

I haven't visited London but when I do visit I would want to visit Churchill;'s war rooms and much more. My favorite independent bookstore is Bookworks. So cozy and special.

Suburban prep said...

I am fortunate to have been to London a few times. The last time I was there was 16+ yrs ago. I went there with my father (who has since passed) and we went to visit my brother and his family (who had been living there for a number of years and have since moved to another country in Europe). But my favorite thing this time was that my husband was able to come over for a few days (I had been on this trip with my father for a couple of weeks). My husband had not been out of the country before. He was excited to see so many things and we enjoyed seeing the Changing of the Guard and going for tea or taking the Tube specially to meet up with my father and then very young nephews to see the train museum and go on the double decker bus for a tour of the city on a Sunday morning.

Jennifer Huelsebusch said...

London is my absolute favorite city! I’ve been twice and can’t wait to go back. We visited everything Royal……Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, The Tower etc. We even traveled to Portsmouth for a sailing event to see William and Kate pass out prizes to the winners which is a highlight!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Sounds like an amazing story!

Toni Laliberte said...

I've never been to London, but I love the double decker buses, the architecture, the food and the history.

Nancy P said...

Perhaps one day I might make it there..

Mary C said...

Hope to make it to London someday.

Nina said...

I love the tea! Still would love to travel there too.

Nancy said...

I love all the traditional sights as well as the restaurants and the food in London.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Rita Wray said...

I would love to see Buckingham Palace.

holdenj said...

Haven't been, but would love to do tea at Harrod's!

dstoutholcomb said...

I've never been to London, but I would love to visit the Tate.

Mary Preston said...

When I visit London I was to see it all. I do have the silver vaults on my list.

bn100 said...

Buckingham Palace

diannekc said...

I have never been to London but I would like to see Buckingham Palace and the different places we see on TV.

Jess said...

My favourite independent bookstore is here in Toronto - Mabel's Fables - a beautiful children's bookstore in my neighbourhood complete with a cat named Mabel

Lindsey E. said...

I have never been to London, but my favorite independent bookstore is the Novel Neighbor is St. Louis, Missouri.

Linda Kish said...

I have never been to London and will never get there. Sadly, there are no bookstores where I live. I miss having bookstores around.

Lelandlee said...

So many sights to see in London

Xia Lee said...

The Dial Bookshop in Chicago

rubynreba said...

I would love to visit London!

Padmini Rao said...

I love the museums

Kelley said...

The BookLoft of German Village. It’s quite the bookstore.

Mary Patricia Bird said...

Never been to London but I really want to go and see the castles.

BookLore Orangeville is our local independent bookstore I frequent. They support local authors with book launches.

Kelly Rodriguez said...

I’ve never been to London yet but I will definitely go there one day to visit all of the beautiful cafes.